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Whenever I tried to explain my husband to other journalists around a water cooler, I’d tell people he’s a doctor who hates golf and prefers to hang out in his hangar. Yes, he’s a private pilot who used to own a Piper Arrow 4 seater, until he sold it after his stroke. In the past, I’d laugh about my analogy – it would paint an accurate picture of an iconoclastic renegade. A doctor who doesn’t golf is like a newspaper reporter who doesn’t like gossip!

Lately, airplane hangars have been taking a lot of grief. First, it was Caitlyn Jenner talking about her buddies who are packing up their private jets and leaving California. That’s the talk around small, municipal airports she said. That seems like a good reason to run for Governor.

But today I learned that the fomenting of the BIG LIE around the 2020 election actually started a few years earlier in an airplane hangar in Texas!

When I would hang around Bob’s airplane hangar, I’d be impressed into duty; checking, cleaning, and generally tidying things up. If the kids were there, we might even wash the plane. If one of his buddies stopped by, they’d talk about the flying conditions, some idiot who clipped his wing on another hangar, and the next trip. And there was a lot of talk about why JFK Jr went down on his way to the Vineyard. I mean that was all single-engine plane owners could talk about back then. But we were in the minor leagues.

With money to burn, and pilots to hire, these BIG business people buy or charter super light jets like a Gulfstream. They come with showers, board rooms and can sit up to 11 people. The hangars are also luxurious. This is an extremely select group of movers and shakers, men like Bill Gates and a random Republican Texas billionaire salesman named Russell J Ramsland Jr… what a Dickensian name. Once he dabbled in “wellness technology,” but selling his skepticism proved more lucrative.

Among other claims, Ramsland was repeating the ominous idea that election software used in the United States originated in Venezuela and saying nefarious actors could surreptitiously manipulate votes on a massive scale. As the 2020 election approached, he privately briefed GOP lawmakers in Washington and met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, documents and interviews show.

ASOG’s (Allied Security Operations Group, a GOP pac that began a quixotic attempt to find evidence of widespread fraud where none existed) examination by last summer had already cost more than $1 million, according to a document the company gave government officials that was obtained by The Post. Ramsland had sought funding from Republican donors whose fortunes were made in the oil, gas and fracking industries.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2021/trump-election-fraud-texas-businessman-ramsland-asog/?itid=hp-top-table-main-0430b

This may help explain why an Arizona audit is looking for bamboo fibers. Ramsland actually converted his hangar into his office. The man who once opened up lots of Tex Mex eateries was now looking for funding to spread widespread voter fraud conspiracies. Usually it’s difficult to find out where a fire started, but it was good investigative reporting that uncovered the spark for the biggest threat to our democracy – disavowing a free and fair election.

I mean remember the hanging chad in Florida? I hated the outcome of that election, I cried about the SCOTUS decision. But I didn’t plan a riotous coup in the Capital.

Since most of us are working from home, and I haven’t been in a news room for quite some time, the typical water cooler gossip has gone virtual. Today, Covid numbers are trending down – in fact Davidson County’s new cases just dipped under 10 per 100,000. But even if we all start traveling and eating indoors again, remember the GOP is still spreading the BIG LIE and stealthily planning a comeback. Their golden orange idol has actually started his own blog. Now Mr T can spread his lies the old school way, complete with misspellings.

I told Bob I wasn’t flying with him unless he learns how to pilot a Cirrus, a plane that has its very own parachute. Nashville has a flying club and it owns one of these pretty planes. You can never be too careful.

Flying to Tune to see the pregnant Bride 6 years ago

Yesterday, I let W the Frenchie out on the porch, and he went straight for the new cactus dish I had planted. I caught him just in time, his tiny nose was saved from all those dreaded cactus spines. While I was telling the Bride this story, she let it slip that W was down to one meal a day since his puppy fat rolls were growing more fat rolls. My poor Grand Dog must be starving!

Then low and behold, I read a Chasten Buttigieg Tweet lamenting the 20 pounds he gained during Covid. But, he went out and bought new pants after a friend told him, “… maybe just dress the body you have and stop worrying about it.” He finished with being grateful for his friends and the “bigger pants.”

First of all, I didn’t think that guys would mind a little tire around the middle. I thought it was mostly a women’s issue – body dysmorphia and diet culture (aka the business of betting on your willpower) has been marketed to women for quite some time. Where once we were implored to become “bikini ready,” now the industry urges us to lose weight for health reasons. My Mother’s diet culture has morphed from grapefruits into jargon about “wellness.”

I felt like confessing to Chasten (and his 588.8K followers) that I too had gained weight during this past year of: losing our family’s matriarch; no gym work-outs; intense election and January 6th anxiety; plus Bob’s delicious-never-ending sourdough bread. Yep, I proudly admit I’ve gained 10 pounds which is a whole dress size, but who’s wearing dresses these days?

Luckily, most of my pants still fit. Granted they are mostly pull-on, yoga style, size Medium, Eileen Fisher. I know cause I actually had to dress up this past week for a graduation party in Ms Berdelle’s secret garden. Talk about getting back to normal, it was delightful to mingle with our vaccinated friends and neighbors, to drink champagne with strawberries, and walk under her roses reaching into the sky.

And honestly, I don’t worry about gaining or losing a little weight. I used to joke that I wasn’t quite Jewish enough because when I worry I stop eating. Well, Grandma Ada would be pleased to know that I’ve finally joined the tribe. This past year required an abundance of comfort food, and I love to cook; so the constellations aligned and voila! I find myself in the South searching for the perfect fried chicken sandwich.

Oh, and the rocks in my pants pockets as I head out the door to Hattie B’s?

I’m not some Victorian damsel in distress heading for the river to drown my sorrows. No, I carry rocks around to hurl at Kevin, who has decided to bring two of his squirrel buddies to raid my dish of delectable bird seed. One good throw never hits him and it does give the doves a few minutes before he returns.

Right now a mourning dove is lifting both wings, sitting across from Kevin, who could care less. She is doing her very best to appear intimidating and large, but squirrels know things. He keeps eating.

Animals have figured out what we humans are still learning, how to eat to survive and thrive. They don’t require scales or marketing ploys. And I don’t require a bikini anymore, I’m more of a tankini type anyway.

Still, sometimes I feel like somebody’s watching me eat.

When Bob and I first contemplated building our ‘not so big’ house in Virginia, I remember our builder telling us we could build with reinforced concrete instead of the usual stick construction. After all, with our view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, we could expect lots of wind and weather. Then he mentioned that it would be so air tight, you wouldn’t hear the birds.

Well, that would never do!

I called my upstairs office my aviary. I loved listening to the racket made by woodpeckers, and two owls calling to each other at sunset. “Whoo.” But I would never feed the birds because I didn’t want to attract bears. I enjoyed Mother Nature in real time: watching fox kits rolling along the grass; families of deer daintily strolling through trees, and two huge Pileated woodpeckers jack hammering a branch that had fallen in the driveway. My favorite sighting was a hummingbird who returned to the same flower every year, at about the same time.

There was plenty of forest for everyone to feast. It was like living inside a Disney movie, with bluebirds everywhere.

But 2020 being what it was, with the addition of a long number of days, below freezing and snow covered, I started throwing out nuts and bread for our poor city slicker birds. Soon enough, I was bringing home big bags of the most delectable bird seed and ordering a fancy, new feeder online. No bears to fear here. Now granted, our small side yard garden cannot compare with 14 acres of woods, but I’ve still managed to attract a diverse group of feathered friends.

Small wrens and finches cling easily to the bird feeder, but the bigger birds, like doves and robins, blue jays and cardinals prefer grazing. So every day I fill a bowl with seed and put out fresh water on a tree stump – the one that held the fairy house. A mockingbird can flit between the stump and the feeder, depending on traffic. And that is the view through my office window today; mourning doves displaying dominance along with an ingenious squirrel. The squirrel trumps everyone on the stump.

Am I becoming that old lady? The one who sits and stares out her window, if she’s not feeding a dozen cats; the one who runs out screaming in her nightgown at the squirrel gobbling all the goodies?

This morning I feel better about my latest obsession. The National Geographic published an article about why backyard birding is great for kids and adults. I was not surprised to read that having a bird feeder can actually contribute to our feeling of happiness.

But why are birds so important to nature’s biodiversity—and therefore your family’s potential happiness? For one thing, birds are an indicator species, meaning they basically function as a “check engine light” for biodiversity. When something is out of whack in nature, birds let us know—often by disappearing—because they need a healthy environment to survive. Of course, birds aren’t the only indicator, but since they’re found almost everywhere in the world and are easy to study, their presence—or absence—is a good way to measure the variety of life that research shows can boost mood.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/family/article/why-a-backyard-thats-for-the-birds-is-great-for-kids-too?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=social::src=twitter::cmp=editorial::add=tw20210430family-livingnearbirdsplanetpossible&sf245481661=1

You’ve heard about the canary in the coal mine. What sparked my empathy for our city birds was coming home one of those frosty winter days to see about ten doves lined up like good little grey soldiers on our porch. They spanned the length of our kitchen wall to capture some house heat and stay out of the wind. Of course they deserved a mourning dove diner on a tree stump!

It’s a diner and fly-in reality show every day.

We’ve created a city bird sanctuary in our sideyard, where birdsong competes with construction noise. And when it all goes quiet, I know danger is near… sure enough, our squirrel is sitting there on his hind legs stuffing his cheeks. Squirrels have to eat too.

Maybe I’m replacing the background sounds of a family. The Flapper used to tell me that some day I would miss those little feet running across a floor and the constant hum of children. She was right. Or maybe it just makes me smile whenever I see our bright red cardinal!

Rooseveltian?

We listened to part of Joe Biden’s speech, did you? Everyone knows he’s accomplished quite a lot in his first 100 days, but free pre-school and community college sure sounds like a stretch. A guy named Tucker said so, I mean who needs a mom anymore?

No matter how much we’d like our government to function rationally and in a bi-partisan manner, it looks like the great divide between fact and fiction has deepened. And even if you happen to be a conservative who doesn’t believe in conspiracy theories, you still want to stay in power. And it almost always comes back to the Culture War.

Like calling parents who insist their children wear masks outside “child abusers.”

At our Cypress Tree Ceremony in the park last weekend, our L’il Pumpkin said he’d rather wear his mask even though all the adults were vaccinated and we were all outside. Why? Because our friend Yoko’s granddaughter was there, an eight month old baby, and he was being considerate of her. Imagine, a 6 year old with more grace than half the country.

The latest National Geographic is all about whales, and even they have culture wars! Depending on where they live, some whales will only eat salmon while others like to catch baby seals. And some orcas love to roll around on the beach! “Beach rubbing is routine among this population, called northern residents because they ply inland seas during summer and fall between the Canadian mainland and Vancouver Island. Not so their neighbors to the south. The orcas around the border with Washington State, where I live, have never been documented performing this ritual.”

It’s funny to think that there are northern and southern whales. And although Biden and FDR grew up on the east coast, comparing them isn’t quite fair. FDR came from a patrician New York family; Biden’s family was salt/of/the/earth/middle/class Delaware via Pennsylvania. Yet Roosevelt created new policy, in order to fund our response to the Great Depression, that angered his wealthy peers. And yet, he wasn’t taxing anybody – he appointed Jesse Jones to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation – to create a synthesis between government and banking.

His main mission was to restore trust in capitalism; to help turn around a risk-averse banking industry.

Under Jones, the RFC worked across economic scales, from local construction contractors to giant corporations. It did not try to fulfill a particular utopian vision of how the economy “ought to be” but worked within the system to fix the system. It relied not on abstract economic ideas like socialism or capitalism, but on practical business methods. And it worked. There was no single magic bullet, but a portfolio of opportunities.

Under Jones, the RFC did not ask Congress for money. It could borrow billions from capital markets or banks. And borrow it did. But with Jones at the helm, overall, it made money. The RFC developed different projects that turned cutting-edge technology into self-sustaining commercial enterprises. Nervous businessmen said it couldn’t be done. Jones—and the rest of the RFC agencies—did it anyway.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/03/surprising-truth-about-roosevelts-new-deal/584209/

Biden must restore our trust in government after the last administration. Reading this article in the Atlantic helped me understand the other big lie of “big government spending.” Sure taxing the rich will help, but so would public and private partnerships. If Biden does want to create a Green New Deal, help women get back to work after this past year, and do something about police reform and gun violence – while the Supreme Court will be simultaneously dealing with a citizen’s ‘right’ to carry a gun around outside of his or her home – he’d better get busy in the NEXT 100 days.

Because I’d like to hang Joe’s picture in my kitchen, just like the Flapper hung FDR over her sink!

A Bald Cypress

As soon as I ended the call with my son, I wanted to call Great Grandma Ada. The Rocker and Aunt KiKi are buying their first home in LA, a glorious mid-century with a view of the valley. No longer will the newlyweds have to work at opposite corners in their living room. The young child who always heard music in his head, has put down roots in the film industry. But in even better news, they had just received their second Moderna shot!

In two weeks they will be fully vaccinated…

I was filled with joy! My instinct was to immediately call Ada. I loved giving her good news about her grandchildren. She would “kvelle” (which means feeling happy and proud in Yiddish), she would say “poo poo poo” (which translates to not letting the evil spirits hear your good fortune). And best of all, her unbridled delight was contagious – she multiplied happiness for everyone within her circle.

And in a way, I did call her yesterday. I made small sandwiches to honor the Fifties Housewife she once was, I picked pink peonies for a gorgeous arrangement because she loved painting flowers, and I wrote about her devotion to knowledge and her career as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

With three of our Nashville friends, we memorialized our loved ones at the Cypress Tree Grove we’d planted in our local park. In 2020, Ellen lost her father, Yoko lost her mother and Rick lost his sister. With our neighbors and friends, AND with everyone vaccinated and mask-free on a sunny, balmy 78 degree Sunday, we listened to Finlandia, by composer Jean Sibelius, and spoke about our collective losses. Here is a snippet about Ada and me:

Years later, when she bumped into me again, she insisted I come back to her home to reconnect with her son, Bob. We married under a canopy of trees in that same office parking lot (outside of her home/office).  She swore she would always take my side, and she kept her promise. A woman of valor, one who was always giving and kind, we were lucky to have her for 96 years.

Yes, if Ada didn’t drag me into her son’s room at the hospital after our chance meeting in an elevator, would I even be here in Nashville? Serendipitous events always seemed to follow Ada; she may have been “Older than the Queen” but her insatiable spirit will never die. I see it in the Bride as she tends to her family and her career with finesse. I see it in the Rocker, who can make twelve notes of music into spine-tingling compositions with alacrity. And her Great Grands love learning, just as she did.

We chose the Bald Cypress because it’s native to TN: it’s adaptive to dry and wet conditions and can withstand flooding; it will develop “knees” with its roots jutting out of the soil; and it’s the only conifer that sheds its needles, ie “bald”. So it’s unique!

But not as unique as our Adala. Bob was a teenager when she went back to graduate school in the 1960s, and she always left dinner for the boys during the week, even though many of her nights were filled with school and clients. “Misery is optional” was one of her favorite quotes. My wedding present from Ada was a gravesite in their family plot – I wasn’t sure how to respond, but remembered a rabbi telling me that we never really grow up until we have our own gravesite.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s taught us to double down on the fragility of life. We are all molecules of star dust, and we were damn lucky to be in Ada’s orbit for so many years.

It’s that time of year again – a time to drag in the basil pots because an overnight frost could kill them. Bob covered the fledgling tomato plants with a sheet. Luckily, they all survived, so my famous tomato, basil and mozzarella summer salad is sure to be on our future menu!

Unlike gardening, Spring cleaning has never really been my thing. I remember my foster mom, Nell, taking down the ‘Venetian’ blinds and scrubbing them, one by one, in the bathtub.

Side Note: Did you know that window blinds were called ‘Venetian’ because they originated in Venice in 1794? I just had to Goggle because that’s an adjective that will date you!

Anyway, Daddy Jim would drag out the ladder to wash windows and clean the gutters. The Flapper actually changed drapes and slipcovers. I don’t recall any beating of rugs, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. When Bob and I were first married, I have a vague memory of changing my duvet cover with the seasons; but that fell by the wayside soon enough. In my mind, these pictures seem like an old black and white movie, the kind where the guy is always lighting two cigarettes.

Instead of cleaning, I held my breath and the ladder yesterday while Bob climbed up between two trees to hang a new bird feeder. This required a power drill and determination people. Later, it was fun watching the squirrel’s reconnaissance mission. We hung it far enough from the tree, plus it has a mechanism that shuts the whole tube down if a certain amount of weight lands on it, and it’s made out metal. No amount of chewing will release its seeds.

Of course I still feel obliged to feed the grazing birds like doves and cardinals, so not to worry, my kamikaze squirrel is never hungry. This morning I looked out my window to see his grey tail in my Portmeirion bowl of feed! Feeling lazy, or was it merely languishing… https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html

I dragged myself over to Twitter to see what was trending and BAM! Mr T again???

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”

That face, that mouth, that repels me. Of course! It’s the one year anniversary of the previously twice impeached former president’s ridiculous news conference about how to get rid of Covid. I could almost smell the despair of his medical professionals. I think Dr Birx hit the road after that. But isn’t it too soon to laugh about the Clorox incident? I mean the Bride tells me that Covid is alive and thriving in Nashville, and The NYTimes says we are still at a “…very high risk” in Davidson County. People continue to die around the world due to this highly contagious virus, and we need to develop a vaccine for young children. So don’t let down your guard, continue to mask-up.

Remember when we used to wipe down and disinfect the mail? Now I need to find out if I should use bleach or vinegar to clean our brand/new/squirrel/proof bird feeder. Or maybe just dish soap?

My first loves:
Daddy Jim and my first dog

Like migrating birds, Bob and I took off from BNA to visit my brother, Dr Jim.

He lives outside of Minneapolis-St Paul, the center of the legal universe this week as the trial of George Floyd goes to a jury. Fences and barricades are up, a large contingent of our National Guard stands ready. Right down the street in Brooklyn Center, Officer Kim Potter allegedly mistook her gun for a taser, killing Daunte Wright. Mr Wright will surely have his day in court too, but can we actually ever reform a culture of police violence?

The judge in the Floyd case is currently giving instructions to the jury – he is explaining what “intent” means. How can we know what Officer Chauvin intended to do about an alleged counterfeit 20 dollar bill; what did he think might happen while he continued to press his knee down on Floyd’s neck? Potter at least is heard on her police video threatening to tase Daunte Wright on a traffic stop that never should have happened.

Both Bob and Dr Jim said if they had been born Black in America, they’d surely be dead by now. Jim has a Vietnam Vet license plate on his car, so that when a cop once stopped him, he eventually waved him on and thanked him for his service.

We were watching the trial of George Floyd when Bob spied a wild turkey walking through the trees outside our window. He was waltzing along in the tony minneapolis suburb without a care in the world. I’d seen squirrels and chipmunks race across Jim’s deck, and later two big deer wandered into our line of sight from the living room couch. My husband almost thought they were elk, they were so huge and majestic!

I thought about the time, early on in 2020, when Bob was weeding around our city house and a glorious, fluffy-tailed red fox came within view – they both stopped and looked each other in the eyes. Then he bounded off across the street and behind an apartment building. Did you know there was a coyote taking up residence in a bathroom at the Nashville Convention Center?

As things return to some sort of stasis, I’m hoping that wildlife might continue to shock us out of our conspicuous consumption. As we begin to travel again, in cars and planes and trains, enlarging our collective carbon footprint, I dream that more and more people will turn to sustainable energy, like bikes, public transportation or electric cars. Of course, a Tesla would be nice, but there are more affordable options out there right now.

Thursday is Earth Day. If we intend to care for Mother Earth, we must be able to care for ourselves and end systemic racism in our country. I saw a sign in MN that said, “End State Sponsored Terrorism,” and I thought about not just reducing and reforming the police who are increasingly militarized, but also confronting our legislators and their addiction to guns and the money gun lobbyists throw around.

The US has seen at least 147 mass shootings in 2021, according to data from the GVA, a non-profit based in Washington.”

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/16/us/mass-shootings-45-one-month/index.html

As children return to school, as we set about going to church or a mall or even a grocery store, will we continue to fear for our lives? Should we Americans accept this as “normal?” Republican TN Gov Bill Lee recently passed a bill that would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon as of July 1st! The law allows anyone over 21 to carry open and concealed handguns WITHOUT a permit!

We cannot return to this normal: a time when driving while Black is dangerous, a time when bullet-proof backpacks are prized, a time when clean air and water was a political issue. Our slow, migration back to semi-normal life must be done thoughtfully, and with the best of intentions.

Five siblings

Meatless Monday

Herb plants are potted and vegetables are in the raised bed. I’ve added a new phlox to the garden and even sprinkled some flower pots about just for fun. As much as gardening is hard work, somehow this year I couldn’t wait to dig my hands in the dirt. And I’ll blame it on the Zoom Pilates, my body hardly suffered from all that bending and hoisting.

Which leads me to ask, what do you do just for fun?

I’m currently reading a book about fun by Annie F Downs; “THAT SOUNDS FUN” or The Joys of being an amateur, the power of falling in love, and why you need a hobby! The Grands and I did a quick trip through Parnassus Bookstore and I was drawn to the local author table. I rarely need to buy a book because of Bob’s monthly gift from the store’s signed first edition club, plus my family and friends revolving free library. But I was drawn to the title after this past pandemic year.

Fun can be big or small, it can be planned or spontaneous. For example, the Bride lets us know when she’s working a day shift and the Groom is in the Covid ICU. This is bound to be a wonderfully fun day for me because I get to puppy sit! I mean, who doesn’t love a puppy? Especially one with big pink ears who looks like Winston Churchill! In fact, today our little Frenchie is on the scene.

So gardening can be a chore, and puppy sitting could be an obligation, it just depends on your attitude. Like cooking, for instance.

I can honestly say that I used to adore cooking, especially for loved ones. It’s my “love language” I’ve been told. But EVERY single day, breakfast/lunch/dinner for a year, and usually just for the two of us… has become a bit mundane. And I like prepping and chopping and such solo, it’s meditative for me. But, since Bob has discovered sourdough, we have to work around each other in the kitchen.

If I’m doing Zoom Pilates in the morning, and I’ve figured out in my mind what’s for lunch and dinner – yes, food is often what I’m thinking about on the yoga mat – then I’m a happy camper. Last week I’d roasted a big pork loin and delivered it to the Groom because the Bride had an evening shift. He was happily surprised to have dinner delivered along with the above mentioned puppy. Then the next day the Bride told me the truth.

They are trying to go meatless for the month of April!

I mean the whole family has decided to tackle Climate Change by changing their diet. I did see it coming; the Love Bug loves pasta with butter, period, and has already delivered a speech to her class about making Mondays meatless in their cafeteria. Still, it was a shock. It was like my daughter telling me she had to stop ballet classes when she turned 10. It was interfering with her schoolwork!

This weekend the Bride made meatless meatballs with chickpeas that were kind of like falafel. And she suggested we join them on a Zoom call with their friends (other doctors and environmental lawyers) about the agricultural impact of Climate Change. We learned that often rain forests are clear cut to make way for cattle grazing – and the more cows and sheep we consume, the more methane these animals produce.

“…global greenhouse gas emissions will need to fall by 40% to 50% in the next decade. Scientists say the only way to achieve that reduction is to significantly increase the amount of land that’s covered in trees and other vegetation and significantly reduce the amount of methane and other greenhouse gases that come from raising livestock such as cows, sheep and goats.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/08/08/748416223/to-slow-global-warming-u-n-warns-agriculture-must-change

Bob and I were not only intrigued, we were mortified. At least we are open to learning something new from our children. Ever since Bob turned 40 I’ve been trimming away red meat, making turkey meatballs for health reasons. Now, we can factor in a healthy planet for future generations. I only have two caveats – the production of cheese is considered to have a negative impact on the environment, and so is the farming of shrimp! These are two steps too far.

Tonight we’ll play Super Boggle and I’ll make veggie burgers just for fun.

Why are we Americans so obsessed with the Royals?

I blame Disney. My generation wanted to grow up and have Tinkerbell spread some fairy dust over our heads, thereby turning us into princesses. I laughed out loud when watching “Hamilton” with the Grands whenever King George appeared – poor dear, he never thought you could just LEAVE your post the way George Washington did.

If you were born a Royal, you stayed a Royal, well, usually… until two American divorcees named Simpson and Markle came on the scene.

I was also enamored of another American girl, Grace Kelly. She was the beautiful Hitchcock actress who married her Prince Rainier of Monaco. The Flapper never let me forget that Kelly was also a Pennsylvania girl.

Thanks to Netflix’s “The Crown,” I’m feeling a certain camaraderie with the Windsors. And I was sorry to hear of Prince Philip’s death at 99. Married to Queen Elizabeth for 74 years, the Prince was known for sometimes appearing out of touch. I simply delighted in their love story.

The “Dr Who” actor, Matt Smith, didn’t quite do the Prince justice; the real Philip looked more dashing and debonair while playing second fiddle in real life to Queen Elizabeth. He had to leave his homeland in Greece because of a coup when he was just a baby, growing up without an anchor. Philip was a poorer, distant cousin without a castle, and Elizabeth fell in love with him when she was just 14 years old.

I need to catch up with the series, I’ve heard that Tobias Menzies brings a certain charm to an older Prince Philip.

But before I get lost in the streaming universe, I’ve got to finish gardening. It’s so warm here now that planting has begun in earnest. In the north, I wouldn’t start planting until Mother’s Day; but here in Nashville it’s usually Tax Day! Climate Change is messing with our timing, maybe we should say April Fool’s Day?

We’re almost done with vegetables and my herbs and flowers have been potted. Doves are dining on the tree stump next to the bird feeder. I keep a bowl of fresh water out too and was surprised to see a dove frolicking in the water.

“We still have to plant some impatiens in the ground,” I told Bob.

“And by WE, you mean me?” he replied.

Sometimes I don’t mind being the second fiddle at all. But mostly, it’s nice to be Queen.

The First Born sitting in our neighbor’s garden with the Second Born

Virtual Voting

Like a first kiss, everyone can remember the very first time they voted.

I am still proud of my first presidential vote for George McGovern in 1972 over Richard Nixon. I was just 24 years old, and was pretty depressed with the results – the ONLY state McGovern won was the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts! He was an anti-war Democrat when Americans were becoming tired of Vietnam; a Senator from South Dakota with an impeccable reputation. But Nixon managed his huge victory through lies and innuendo, with Watergate looming on the horizon.

At least Nixon lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1970 – ’cause if you can be drafted to die in Vietnam, you might as well be able to vote.

I remember my foster parents voting. It was the only time they would leave me alone in the house; they would get dressed up for the occasion, Nell would wear powder and lipstick, Jim would don a tie. They would never say who they voted for, but somehow I knew it was a straight-line Blue ticket. After all, Democrats were the party of working people, of unions, and even the Catholic Church! This was FDR and JFK’s legacy, they were like saints to us.

And then in 1965, LBJ signed into law the Voting Rights Act to end racial discrimination at the ballot box.

“Black people attempting to vote were often told by election officials that they gotten the date, time or polling place wrong, that the officials were late or absent, that they possessed insufficient literacy skills or had filled out an application incorrectly. Often African Americans, whose population suffered a high rate of illiteracy due to centuries of oppression and poverty, would be forced to take literacy tests, which they inevitably failed. Johnson also told Congress that voting officials, primarily in southern states, had been known to force black voters to “recite the entire constitution or explain the most complex provisions of state laws”–a task most white voters would have been hard-pressed to accomplish. In some cases, even Black people with college degrees were turned away from the polls.”

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/johnson-signs-voting-rights-act

But as we know, so often passing a law and enforcing it are two different things. In the South, Republicans managed to continue to suppress the Black vote in covert ways. Outlawing a poll tax for example can be replaced by fewer and minimally staffed polling places in urban Black neighborhoods. Where there is a White Supremacist will, they will find a way – just as legislators are doing now in Georgia.

One of the most egregious changes Gov Kemp signed into law last week was cutting by half the number of days a person can request an absentee ballot. Due to Covid, in the last election about a quarter of the GA electorate voted absentee. And almost 65% of those voting absentee were for Joe Biden.

The first time I voted absentee was in VA. We were planning a trip over an upcoming November election, so we had to present ourselves to City Hall and state the reason we needed to vote early. You needed a reason, like a child getting a note from a doctor in order to return to school. Then after presenting our photo IDs, we sat down right there and voted with paper and pen.

This last election we requested absentee ballots, because… we’re old. TN Republicans didn’t think a global pandemic was a good enough reason to vote absentee. Bob thought it was funny that we didn’t need to prove who we were to anybody, just make the request online, and wait for it to be delivered. And wait, and wait. Then vote and seal it. I mean, who would hack a government agency? We hand-delivered our ballots, along with Ada and Hudson’s, to the official ballot box at Nashville’s historic US Post Office! Of course, sealing it “the right way” was tricky but we managed.

I wonder what my Nana would say because she was denied her right to vote over a century ago, after the 19th Amendment was passed. She had married an “Alien,” aka an Irish born citizen. What would my foster mom Nell think if she saw me in a face mask, voting at a post office? Would she wonder why Republicans are making it harder to vote than it is to buy a gun? I’d like to ask her out on our porch, while she was sipping an ice cold Royal Crown cola. I’ll have a Pepsi myself.

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